Think about how this can transform your knowledge, training, and provide people with instant access to knowledge. This is something if you have to play and experience, it’s incredible and will get your mind racing.
First watch the screencast:
Some things I tried:
What is pizza
Find the answer to word patterns:
Some interesting items from their FAQ’s
How much data is there in Wolfram|Alpha?
Many trillions of elements, continually growing through a large number of feeds.
Does Wolfram|Alpha get its data from the web?
No. It comes from Wolfram|Alpha’s internal knowledge base. Some of the data in that knowledge base is derived from official public or private websites, but most of it is from more systematic primary sources.
Where does Wolfram|Alpha’s data come from?
Many different sources, combined and curated by the Wolfram|Alpha team. At the bottom of each relevant results page there’s a “Source information” button, which provides background sources and references.
Can I find the origin of a particular piece of data?
Most of the data in Wolfram|Alpha is derived by computations, often based on multiple sources. A list of background sources and references is available via the “Source information” button at the bottom of relevant Wolfram|Alpha results pages.
What is the closest precursor to Wolfram|Alpha?
In concept, perhaps Leibniz’s characteristica universalis from the late 1600s???or the science-fiction computers of the 1960s. Technologically, many pieces of Wolfram|Alpha have precursors, but the ambitious scope of the whole project is believed to be unique.
From Stephen Wolfram’s Blog
And this is what inspired me to believe that building Wolfram|Alpha might be possible.
As a practical matter, many algorithms in Wolfram|Alpha were found by NKS methods???by searching the computational universe for programs that achieve particular purposes.
And there is a curious sense in which the discoveries of NKS about computational irreducibility are what make Wolfram|Alpha possible.
For one of the crucial features of Wolfram|Alpha is its ability to take free-form linguistic input, and to map it onto its precise symbolic representations of computations.
Yet if these computations could be of any form whatsoever, it would be very difficult to recognize the linguistic inputs that represent them.
But from NKS we know that computations fall into two classes: computationally reducible and computationally irreducible.
NKS shows that in the abstract space of all possible computations the computationally irreducible are much the most common.
But here is the crucial point: because those computations are not part of what we have historically studied or discussed, no systematic tradition of human language exists to describe them.
So when we use natural human language as input to Wolfram|Alpha, we are inevitably going to be describing that thin set of computations that have long linguistic traditions, and are computationally reducible.
Those computations cover the traditional sciences. But in a sense it is the very ubiquity of computational irreducibility that forces there to be only small islands of computational reducibility???which can readily be identified even from quite vague linguistic input.
If one looks at Wolfram|Alpha today, much of what it computes is firmly based on OKS (the ???Old Kind of Science???), and in this sense Wolfram|Alpha can be viewed as a shining example of what can be achieved with pre-NKS mathematical science.